OACD State Meeting 2007

70 Years — And Still Going!
The 2007 Annual State Meeting of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts

The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD) held its 69th Annual State Meeting at the Biltmore Hotel in Oklahoma City Feb. 25-27. The theme of this year’s meeting, “70 Years — And Still Going!” celebrated the 70th anniversary of the law creating conservation districts in Oklahoma. OACD is an independent organization that promotes natural resource conservation through various activities and functions. The meeting was cosponsored by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.

Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins opened the meeting at the first general session on Monday, Feb. 26. She welcomed the attendees on behalf of Gov. Brad Henry and commended the assembled conservationists for their commitment to the state’s natural resources. She stated that she was proud that the honorary chair of her first campaign for state representative in 1990 was Nolen Fuqua. Fuqua, then a Stephens County Conservation District Director, had been the first president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts. Askins said her father taught her the importance of tree windbreaks in preventing wind erosion, but Fuqua taught her the role that water conservation and flood control play in soil conservation. She spoke of frequently visiting the local conservation district office through her years in office to stay in touch with natural resource activities and needs.

Bill Wilson of Kinta, Oklahoma, Haskell County Conservation District director, also spoke during the opening session. Wilson recently concluded a two-year term as president of the National Association of Conservation Districts.

At the Monday luncheon, Walter Eskridge, a curator for the Oklahoma Historical Society, gave a living history presentation in the character of a Dust Bowl-era Oklahoma farmer.
Oklahoma Speaker of the House of Representatives Lance Cargill spoke to the group at the Tuesday morning general session. Cargill said “As proud as I am of Oklahoma’s history, I am more excited about our future.” He stated that “green spaces,” areas with well-developed and healthy natural resources, are high among criteria for areas ranked as outstanding places to live. For that reason, Cargill will introduce into this legislative session House Bill 4108 that he has named the Oklahoma Forever Land Trust Act. The goal of the bill is to encourage a future of outstanding rural and natural resource development.

Conservation Awards

Awards for outstanding contributions to conservation of Oklahoma’s natural resources were presented to individuals and organizations during the OACD State Meeting.

OACD Conservation Hall of Fame (presented at the Monday evening Legislative Banquet)

The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission established the Oklahoma Conservation Hall of Fame in 1985. Each year, one or more friends of conservation and/or conservation district directors are inducted in recognition of a positive influence on Oklahoma’s conservation programs. This year OACD inducted two friends of conservation into the Hall of Fame.
OACD President Dan Lowrance named M. Darrel Dominick and Wayne Sexton to the Oklahoma Conservation Hall of Fame during the organization’s banquet on Feb. 26.

Dominick, named to the Hall of Fame as a Friend of Conservation, served for six years as state conservationist in Oklahoma for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Lowrance cited Dominick for building the strength of Oklahoma’s conservation partnership and setting an example for the rest of the nation in conservation efforts.

OACD President Lowrance also named Wayne Sexton, a Pittsburg County Conservation District director to the Hall of Fame. Sexton recently completed five terms as Area V director for OACD, the term limit for that office. Lowrance cited Sexton as a leader in educating legislators on critical conservation issues in the state.

OACD President’s Award

The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts has presented its President’s Award since 1983 to one or more individuals or an organization that has shown outstanding support of conservation efforts in Oklahoma or the nation.

OACD President Dan Lowrance presented the President’s Award for 2007 to Ron Hays, a broadcaster with the Radio Oklahoma Network and publisher of the Oklahoma Farm Report daily email bulletin. Lowrance commended Hays for his long-term commitment to informing and promoting the state’s agricultural and conservation efforts. He also cited Hays’ coverage of the efforts of Oklahoma conservationists to thwart the reassignment of State Conservationist Darrel Dominick by NRCS last year. Lowrance stated that Hays continues to make an invaluable contribution to agriculture, conservation and rural life in Oklahoma.

OACD Conservation Awards

The OACD Conservation Awards for Outstanding Conservation District, District Director and District Cooperator were announced at OACD Awards Banquet on Feb. 26. The awards will be presented in a ceremony in the Governor’s Blue Room during Conservation Day at the Capitol on March 19.

East Woods County Conservation District will receive the Outstanding Conservation District award, cosponsored by Chesapeake Energy. The district was cited for a variety of active conservation programs.
Paul Brown of Chickasha will receive the Outstanding District Director award cosponsored by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. Brown serves on the board of directors of Grady County Conservation District.
Joe A. Jeter of Copan was announced as Outstanding Cooperator/Landowner. Payne is a cooperator with the Caney Valley Conservation District. The award is cosponsored by the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma.

100% Attendance by Board

Harper County Conservation District was honored for continuing a record of 100 percent attendance of district directors at board meetings.

Excellence in Communication

Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Press Association (OPA), joined OACD President Dan Lowrance to present the Excellence in Communications Awards, cosponsored by OACD and OPA. The award for Outstanding Continuing Support by an OPA Member Newspaper went to Kevin Hassler, associate editor of the Enid News and Eagle. Hassler was entered in the contest by the Garfield County Conservation District.

The Excellence in Innovative Communication went to Harper County Conservation District for developing handouts for legislators that helped achieve a pay raise for district employees. The items were Pay Day candy bars and packets of Equal sweetener labeled with messages calling attention to the fact that district employee salaries were much lower than state employees performing comparable work.

Employee Recognition

Cindy Bierig, secretary for the Major County Conservation District, received the Adeline Laird Award. The award was established in memory of Adeline Laird, finance officer at the Oklahoma Conservation Commission from October 1974 until her death in 1984. The award is presented to recognize district secretaries or programs coordinators who typify Laird’s hard work, dedication, enthusiasm and caring attitude.
Bradley Hamilton, district manager for the Pittsburg County Conservation District, received the Outstanding Conservation District Employee Award from the Oklahoma Association of Conservation District Employees.

Earth Team Awards

Kirk Schreiner of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service presented NRCS Earth Team awards for volunteer service. The following Earth Team Volunteer Awards were presented:
Oklahoma Workgroup of the Year: Wheatland RC&D
Group Project 2006: Newkirk Field Office/Kay County Conservation District
Volunteer Award: Pam Silas, Purcell Field Office/McClain County Conservation District